Mean Machine

XV Motorsports, an upstart custom auto shop, transforms classic muscle cars into high-tech racers.
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XV Motorsports, an upstart custom auto shop, transforms classic muscle cars into high-tech racers.
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Specifications

Dodge Challenger, $217,000

Engine: 6.1-liter V-8

Horsepower: 600

Torque: 495 lb.-ft.

Top Speed: 180+ mph

0–60 mph: 4.5 secs

When John Buscema sold his outsourcing-solutions business to Bank of New York, he could have just gone golfing for life. But Buscema, a longtime gearhead, had other plans. In 2005 he opened XV Motorsports in upstate New York and began refitting vintage Chryslers with modern performance parts. It takes his 15-man crew eight months to create one of their rolling masterpieces, like this XV 002, which first turned over as a 1971 Dodge Challenger and recently sold for a cool $217,000.

The process starts with a "donor car," which XV typically purchases at auction. Buscema scours the country for Mopar muscle cars from 1968–1974, specifically "B" (Plymouth Road Runner and GTX, Dodge Charger and Super Bee) and "E" (Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Barracuda) bodies. The autos can cost anywhere from $6,000 for a hardtop 1974 Barracuda all the way up to $50,000 for a highly prized convertible like this beauty. Once the car is in the shop, many of the internals are scrapped, and XV restores the bodywork. Next the car gets entirely new, custom guts, including a modern Hemi engine, a race-tuned suspension, and luxe interiors updated with yuppie features like cupholders and an iPod dock.

Despite its refinements, this XV—only the company’s second creation—can smoke any takers off the line. Under the hood is a hand-tweaked, normally aspirated 6.1-liter Dodge SRT8 engine that turns out a staggering 600 horsepower. All that grunt flows through a Viper Spec T-56 six-speed manual transmission that allows for effortless shifting at wide-open throttle, thanks to a high-rpm hydraulic clutch. A suspension system co-created by Multimatic Inc.—a firm that works with IndyCar teams like Andretti Green—and oversize disc brakes with six-piston calipers and 18-inch Michelin rubber work together seamlessly to help prevent accidental low-altitude flights.

Does it hurt Buscema when someone drives off with one of his rides? "A little," he admits, "but we have about 20 shells just waiting to be worked on." You can buy one of Buscema’s badass babies at xvmotorsports.com.